Glossary of Terms

Scanner Glossary

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z The bar code scanning glossary provides definitions of technical terms used to describe bar code data capture devices and applications.
A
A/N See alphanumeric.
AIAG Automotive Industry Action Group is responsible for automotive industry standards relating to bar code symbology and common label formats. Address: Southfield, MI 48075. AIAG web site.
AIM Automatic Identification Manufacturers, Inc. is the trade association for manufacturers of automatic identification systems. Address: 634 Alpha Drive; Pittsburgh, PA 15238; Phone: +1.412.963.8588; Fax: +1.412.963.8753. Go to the AIMUSA web site.
Alignment The position of a scanner or light source relative to the target of the receiving element.
Alphanumeric A character set that contains letters, numbers and other characters such as special symbols.
ANSI The American National Standards Institute is a non-governmental organization responsible for the coordination of voluntary national (United States) standards. Address: ANSI; 11 West 42nd Street; New York, NY 10036; Phone: +1.212.642.4900; Fax: +1.212.302.1286. Go to the ANSI web site.
Aperture A physical opening that is part of the optical path in a device such as a scanner, photometer or camera. Most apertures are circular, but they may be rectangular or elliptical as well.
Application Identifier (AI) A UCC.EAN prefix that defines the meaning and purpose of the data element that follows, as defined in ANSI/UCC4, UCC.EAN-128 Application Identifier Standard. For more information, go to the Uniform Code Council web site.
Application Software A system of programs designed to accomplish an operational task or tasks and run on a computer.
Application Standard Specification defining the method and conditions when automatic data capture technology may be applied to a particular purpose and recommends data formats, optical requirements and symbology-related parameters that are subsets of the range defined by relevant technical standards.
ASCII American Standard Code for Information Interchange is a computer code, as described in ISO standard 646, consisting of 128 alphanumeric and control characters, each encoded with 7 bits (an 8th bit may or may not be used to include a parity check) that is used for the exchange of information between computerized systems.
Aspect Ratio The ratio of symbol height to symbol length in a 2-dimensional symbol.
Asset Tracking A simple bar code system that gives a company the ability to consistently locate each asset.
Autodiscrimination The capability of a reader to automatically recognize and decode multiple machine-readable symbologies.
Automatic Identification Data Collection (AIDC) AIDC is a term used to describe direct entry of data into a computer system, programmable logic controller (PLC) or other microprocessor-controlled device without using a keyboard.
Automatic Identification System The application of various technologies, such as bar code recognition, image recognition, voice recognition and RF/MW transponders, for the purpose of data entry into a data processing system and bypassing the key-entry component of traditional data entry.
Average Background Reflectance Expressed as a percentage, this is a simple arithmetic average of the background reflectance from at least five different points on a sheet.
B
Background The area surrounding a printed symbol including the spaces and quiet zones.
Bar Any of the dark lines in a printed, machine-readable symbol.
Bar Code An array of parallel rectangular bars and spaces arranged according to the encodation rules of a particular symbol specification in order to represent data in machine-readable form (i.e., Code 39).
Bar Code Character A single group of bars and spaces which represent an individual number, letter, punctuation mark or other symbol.
Bar Code Density The number of characters represented in a linear unit of measure, often expressed in characters per inch (CPI).
Bar Code Label A label with a bar code that is suitable to be affixed to an article or item.
Bar Code Reader A device used to read or decode a bar code symbol.
Bar Code Symbol The combination of symbol characters and features required by a particular symbology, including quiet zones, start and stop characters, data characters, check characters and other auxiliary patterns, that together form a complete scannable entity (see symbol).
Bar Height The dimension of the individual bars in a bar code symbol or in a row of a multi-row, 2-dimensional symbol that is measured perpendicular to the scanning direction (see Y dimension).
Bar Reflectance (Rb) The reflectance of a bar measured in a locally-selected portion of a scan profile.
Bar Width The transverse dimension of an individual bar in a bar code symbol that is measured parallel to the scanning direction. The number of possible width variations within a particular printed symbol depends on the symbology used (see X dimension).
Bar Width Reduction Reduction of the nominal bar width dimension on film masters or printing plates to compensate for printing gain.
Bi-directional Denotes that a machine-readable symbol can be read successfully in two directions either backwards or forwards. Also identifies a scanner that can operate or a bar code that can be read independent of scanning direction.
Bi-directional Read (See bi-directional).
Binary Denotes a numbering system to base 2 in which numbers are expressed as combinations of the digits 0 and 1 with positional weighting based on powers of 2. In computing, these can be represented electrically by 'off' and 'on' respectively or in machine-readable symbols by narrow and wide elements or by the absence or presence of a bar module.
Bit Abbreviation for binary digit: (1) a single element {0 or 1} in a binary number; or (2) a unit of information capacity in a binary storage device.
Byte A sequential series of bits comprising one character and handled as one unit. Usually encoded in the ASCII format, a byte usually consists of eight bits and represents one alphabetic or special character, two decimal digits or eight binary bits.
C
Carrier The party that provides freight services movement and information.
Carrier Tracking Number A unique number used by the carrier, customer and/or supplier to track freight while consigned to a carrier. The shipping label number may be used for this process.
CCD Charge Coupled Device is an array (linear or matrix) of transductive elements where packets of electrons are set in each element as a result of the quantity of light received during an exposure interval, and these packets are recovered from the array in the form of a pulse height-modulated electric signal.
Character (1) A single group of bars and spaces representing an individual number, letter, punctuation mark or other symbol; or (2) a graphic shape representing a letter, numeral or symbol; or (3) a letter, digit or other symbol that is used as part of the organization, control or representation of data.
Character Alignment The vertical or horizontal position of characters with respect to a given reference line.
Character Set Those characters available for encodation in a particular bar code symbology.
Check Character A character included within a symbol; its value is used for the purpose of performing a mathematical check to ensure the accuracy of the read.
Check Digit (See check character).
Clear Area (See quiet zone).
Codabar -- (2 of 7 Code, Code 27 ) A discrete, variable length bar code symbology in which 4 bars and 3 spaces are used to represent a character set of 16 characters [the digits 0 through 9 and "-" (dash), "$" (dollar sign), ":" (colon), "/" (slash),, "." (period), "+" (plus sign)]. The code is characterized by 4 unique start/stop codes (A, B, C, D) and variable intercharacter spacing. For more information, go to the AIM web site or the ANSI web site.
Code A set of unambiguous rules specifying the way in which data may be represented as numbers and letters used to represent information (see number system).
Code 128 This continuous, variable length bar code symbology is capable of encoding the full ASCII 128 character set, the 128 extended ASCII character set and 4 non-data function characters. Code 128 allows numeric data to be represented in a compact double-density mode with 2 data digits for every symbol character. Each Code 128 symbol uses 2 independent self-checking features, character self-checking via parity and a modul0 103 check character. Each Code 128 symbol consists of a leading quiet zone, a start pattern, characters representing data, a check character, a stop pattern and a trailing quiet zone. Each Code 128 character consists of 11-1X wide modules. Each symbol character is comprised of 3 bars alternating with 3 spaces starting with a bar. Each element (bar or space) may consist of 1 to 4 modules. Code 128 has 3 unique character sets designated as code set A, B and C. Code set A includes all of the standard uppercase alphanumeric keyboard characters, ASCII control characters having an ASCII value of 0 to 95 and 7 special characters. Code set B includes all of the standard uppercase alphanumeric keyboard characters, lower case alphabetic characters (specifically ASCII character values 32 to 127) and 7 special characters. Code set C includes the set of 100 digit pairs from 00 through 99, inclusive, as well as 3 special characters. The FNC1 character in the first character position after the start code of Code 128 designates that the data the follows complies with the UCC.EAN-128 standards. For more information, go to AIM web site or the ANSI web site.
Code 16K A variable length, multi-row, 2-dimensional symbology encoding the full ASCII 128 character set and has extended ASCII capability as well. Code 16K employs existing U.P.C. and Code 128 character set patterns. Each Code 16K symbol consists of 2 to 16 rows. Each row consists of a leading quiet zone, a start pattern, a guard bar, five symbol characters, a stop pattern and a trailing quiet zone. Up to 77 ASCII characters or 154 numeric characters can be encoded in a 16-row symbol. Code 16K has row identification by unique start/stop patterns, character self-checking and 2 Modulo 107 symbol check characters. Code 16K symbols include error detection but no error correction. For more information, go to the AIM web site or the ANSI web site.
Code 39 -- (3 of 9 Code) A discrete, variable length bar code symbology encoding the characters 0 to 9, A to Z and the additional characters "-" (dash), "." (period), Space, "$" (dollar sign), "/" (slash), "+" (plus sign), and "%" (percent sign) as well as a special symbology to denote the start and stop character, represented as an "*" (asterisk). Each Code 39 symbol consists of a leading quiet zone, a start symbol pattern, symbol characters representing data, a stop pattern and a trailing quiet zone. Each Code 39 character has 3 wide elements out of a total of 9 elements. Each symbol consists of a series of symbol characters, each represented by 5 bars and 4 intervening spaces. Characters are separated by an intercharacter gap. Each element (bar or space) is one of two widths. The values of the "X dimension" and "N" remain constant throughout the symbol. The particular pattern of wide and narrow elements determines the character being encoded. The intercharacter gaps are spaces with a minimum nominal width of 1X. For more information, go to the AIM web site or the ANSI web site.
Code 49 This symbol is a stack of 2 to 8 rows. Each row encodes row count information plus data characters. For more information, go to the AIM web site or the ANSI web site. (See stacked codes).
Code 93 This symbol is a full alphanumeric bar code that is capable of encoding all 128 ASCII characters. For more information, go to the AIM web site or the ANSI web site.
Codeword As a symbol character value, this isan intermediate level of coding between source data and the graphical encodation in the symbol.
Compliance Indicator With a specified string of characters at the start of a message, this indicates that the message conforms to the common data syntax for high-capacity data carriers.
Concatination The construction of a string of data from two or more strings by appending each string in succession. The linking or chaining together of separate items of data in a bar code symbol or of the data contained in two or more separate bar code symbols (also referred to as message append and structured append).
Consumer Unit In the U.P.C. standard, this refers to a specific package quantity of a specific product offered by a specific manufacturer. For more information, go to the Uniform Code Council web site.
Continuous Code A bar code symbol where all spaces within the symbol are parts of characters (i.e., I 2/5), with no intercharacter gap.
Contrast The difference in reflectance between the black and white (or bar and space) areas of a symbol.
CPI Characters per inch (see bar code density).
D
Data Collection System A system with input devices located at points where data is created. Once captured, the data is immediately transmitted by cable, telephone line or radio signal to a central location, usually in or near a computer room for automatic recording. The data may also be transmitted to a storage medium such as tape, disk or semiconductor memory for later transfer to a host computer application program.
Data Collection Terminals Terminals or scanners with a built-in scanner from an input port that is capable of accepting data from laser and/or CCD scanners. Data collected from scan is routinely stored and transmitted to a host.
Data Identifier A specified character or string of characters that defines the intended use of the data element that follows. For the purposes of automatic data capture technologies, data identifier refers to the alphanumeric identifiers as defined in ANSI MH10.8.2, formerly known as ANSI/FACT data identifiers
Data Matrix This error correcting, 2-dimensional matrix symbology was originally developed in 1989, and a finalized design was completed in 1995 by International Data Matrix. It's capable of encoding various character sets including strictly numeric data, alphanumeric data and all ISO 646 (ASCII) characters, as well as special character sets. The symbology has both error detection and error correction features. Each Data Matrix symbol consists of data regions, which contain nominally square modules set out in a regular array. A dark module is a binary 1 and a light module is a binary 0. There is no specified minimum or maximum for the X or Y dimension. The data region is surrounded by a finder pattern, a perimeter to the data region that is 1 module wide, which is surrounded by a quiet zone on all four sides of the symbol. Two adjacent sides are solid dark lines used primarily to define physical size, orientation and symbol distortion. The two opposite sides consist of alternating dark and light modules. These are used primarily to define the cell structure but also assist in determining physical size and distortion. There are 2 types of Data Matrix symbologies: ECC 000 - 140 with several available levels of convolutional error correction, and ECC 200, which uses Reed-Solomon error correction. For ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 31 purposes, only ECC 200 is recommended. The intellectual property rights associated with Data Matrix have been committed to the public domain.
Data Structure The stipulation of the type of information that is included in a bar code, such as its order and format.
Decimal The number representation system with a radix of 10.
Decode Algorithm A set of rules used to convert the dark and light element patterns of a machine-readable symbol to data characters.
Decoder An electronic package that receives the signals from the scanning function, performs the algorithm to interpret the signals into meaningful data and provides the interface to other devices.
Density Describes the relative amount of memory contained in a radio frequency identification tag (see bar code density).
Depth of Field The distance between the maximum and minimum plane in which a code reader is capable of reading symbols.
Diffuse Reflection The component of reflected light that emanates in all directions from the reflecting surface.
Direct Thermal (See thermal)
Discrete Code A bar code or symbol where the spaces between characters (intercharacter gap) are not part of the code (i.e., Code 39).
Dot Matrix A system of printing where the individual dots are printed in matrix-forming bars (5x7, 7x9), alphanumeric characters and simple graphics.
Dot Size (Ink Jet) (Dot Matrix) (Thermal) The size of the printed dot laid down on a substrate in a matrix or line to form characters.
E
EAN European Article Numbering and EAN International abbreviation. It refers to the bar code symbology used for marking of consumer products in accordance with EAN specifications. For more information, go to the Uniform Code Council web site.
EAN/U.P.C. A fixed-length, numeric 13-digit bar code symbol consisting of 30 dark elements and 29 intervening light elements. Each character is represented by 2 bars and 2 spaces over 7 modules. A bar may be comprised of 1, 2, 3 or 4 modules. Each EAN/U.P.C. symbol consists of a leading quiet zone, a start pattern, 7 left-hand data characters, a center bar pattern, 5 right-hand data characters, a Modulo 10 check character, a stop pattern and a trailing quiet zone. U.P.C. is often considered a 12-digit code. The 13th digit of EAN/U.P.C. symbol is a derived character in the left-most position. In the case of U.P.C., this derived left-most character is a 0. For more information, go to the Uniform Code Council web site.
EDI Electronic Data Interchange: An intercompany, computer-to-computer communication of data that permits the receiver to perform the function of a standard business transaction in a standard data format. For more information, go to the DISA web site or the ANSI web site.
EDI Message Data The data communicated between business trading partners in a standard format and syntax (i.e., ANSI ASC X.12 or UN/EDIFACT).
EHIBCC The European Health Industry Business Communications Council (EHIBCC) was established in The Netherlands for administration and maintenance of the Health Industry Bar Code Supplier Labeling Standard as well as the Labeler Identification Codes issued in Europe. Learn more at the HIBCC web site.
Electrostatic A method of printing utilizing a special electrostatic paper or charged drum, both of which attract toner to the charged area.
Element A single bar or space.
Error Correction A reader or decoder's use of mathematical schemes to reconstruct or replace damaged or missing symbol characters to enable the reading of the symbol data.
Error-Correction Characters Symbol characters used for error correction and detection, calculated automatically from the other symbol characters.
Error-Correction Level An indicator of the number of characters used in a symbology for error correction. A higher level of error correction allows for correcting greater potential symbol damage.
Error Detection This occurs when error-correction characters detect that the presence of errors in the symbol exceeds the error correction capacity, and keeps the symbol from being decoded as erroneous data.
Error-Detection Characters Symbol characters reserved for error detection that are calculated automatically from the other symbol characters.
F
Film Master A photographic film representation of a specific symbol used to produce a printing plate.
First Read Rate The percentage representing the number of successful reads per 100 scans to read a particular symbol.
Fixed Beam Bar Code Reader A scanning device where scanning motion is achieved by moving the object relative to the reader; as opposed to a moving beam reader.
Foil (See ribbon).
Font A specific size and style of printer's type.
Formed Font Impact A printing method for labels consisting of a rotating drum etched with raised bars and characters. A one-time ribbon and the label move between the drum and a micro controlled hammer.
G
General Trade Items Items that are not specifically made for one customer.
Guard Bars Bars located at both ends and the center of a UPC and EAN symbol to provide reference points for scanning.
H
Handheld Laser Scanner (See laser scanner).
Handheld Wand Scanner (See wand scanner).
He-Ne A common name for helium neon laser.
Helium Neon Laser A type of laser commonly used in bar code scanners that emits coherent red light at a wavelength of 633 nm.
HIBC Health Industry Bar Code. Learn more at the HIBCC web site.
HIBCC The Health Industry Business Communications Council (HIBCC) develops and maintains standards for use in the healthcare industry. Address: 5110 N 40th Street, Suite 120; Phoenix, AZ 85018. Learn more at the HIBCC web site.
Horizontal Bar Code A bar code or symbol with an overall length dimension that is parallel to the horizon, which resembles a picket fence.
Human Readable Interpretation The interpretation of bar code data, often printed immediately below the bar code, which is readable to humans.
I
ILD Infrared laser diode: a solid-state laser producing light in the infrared region.
Impact Printing Any printing system where a microprocessor-controlled hammer impacts against a ribbon and a substrate.
InkjJet A method of printing using liquid ink projected a drop at a time against a substrate.
Inspection Applications that use bar codes or other forms of AIDC to identify and validate items, primarily used in the receiving or shipping functions of inventory control.
Intercharacter Gap The space between 2 adjacent bar code characters in a discrete code (i.e., the clear space between 2 characters in Code 39).
Interleaved 2 of 5 Code -- (I 2/5) A numeric bar code symbology consisting of 5 bars, 2 of which are wide. Learn more at the AIM web site or the ANSI web site.
Inventory Control Applications where bar coding and other forms of AIDC are used to add items or delete items from inventory with 100 percent item accuracy.
Ion Deposition (See electrostatic).
J
JAN Japanese Article Numbering, similar to EAN.
L
Ladder Code (See vertical bar code).
Laser Scanner An optical bar code reading device using a coherent laser light beam as its source of illumination.
LED Light emitting diode: a semiconductor that produces light at a frequency determined by its chemical composition. The light source commonly used in wand readers.
LIC Labeler Identification Code is a number assigned by the Health Industry Business Communication Council (HIBCC) to uniquely identify a manufacturer or labeler of products intended to be sold through the healthcare supply chain. Learn more at the HIBCC web site.
Light Pen A handheld, pen contact reader, which the user must sweep across the symbol to read the bar code.
M
Machine Readable A general term for printed material that is directly transferred to a data processing system.
Manufacturer Organizations that actually produce or fabricate an item and may not necessarily be the supplier in a transaction.
Manufacturer's ID The 6-digit number applied by the UCC to uniquely identify a manufacturer or company selling products under its own name; the first 6 digits of the 12-digit U.P.C. number. Learn more at the Uniform Code Council web site.
Matrix Symbols A 2-dimensional array of regular polygon shaped cells where the center-to-center distance of adjacent elements is uniform. The arrangement of the cells represents data and/or symbology functions. Matrix symbols may include recognition patterns that do not follow the same rule as the other elements within the symbol (i.e., Data Matrix and MaxiCode).
MHI Material Handling Institute, Inc.
Mil One thousandth of an inch; a unit of measure often used to quantify bar code printing and scanning dimensions.
MIS Management information systems: the department that is usually in charge of computing systems in a company; also called data processing or information systems.
Misread Occurs when the data output of a reader does not agree with the data encoded in the bar code symbol.
Module (1) The narrowest nominal width unit of measure in a symbol. In certain symbologies, element widths are specified as multiples of 1 module. Equivalent to X dimension; or (2) a single cell in a matrix symbology used to encode 1 bit of data. In MaxiCode, the module shape is a regular hexagon. In Data Matrix, the module shape is nominally square. In PDF417, the module shape is a regular rectangle. In bar code symbologies, the module shape is a regular rectangle.
Module Check Digit or Character A character within the symbol data field calculated using modular arithmetic that is used for error detection. The calculated character is determined by applying a code algorithm to the data field contents (see check character).
Moving Beam Bar Code Reader A device where scanning motion is achieved by mechanically moving the optical geometry.
MRD Minimum reflectance difference: a formula that is used to determine if there is an adequate difference between absorbed and reflected light.
MRP Material requirements planning.
N
Nanometer Unit of measure used to define the wavelength of light that is equal to 10-9 meter.
Nominal The exact (or ideal) intended value for a specified parameter. Tolerances are specified as positive and negative deviations from this value.
Non-Contact Reader/Scanner Bar code readers requiring no physical contact with the printed symbol.
Non-read The absence of data at the scanner output after an attempted scan, which is dueto no code, defective code, scanner failure or operator error.
Number System A method of identifying individual or groups of objects. Number systems are of two types: (1) Significant digit each item is uniquely identified; and (2) Non-significant digit sequential numbers are assigned regardless of product or item description. Learn more at the Uniform Code Council web site.
Numeric A character set consisting of only numbers.
O
OCR Optical character recognition.
Omnidirectional Bar codes read in any orientation relative to the scanner.
Opacity The property of a substrate material that minimizes show-through from the back or the next sheet. The ratio of the reflectance with a black backing to the reflectance with a white backing. Ink opacity is the property of an ink that prevents the substrate from showing through.
Optical Throw The distance from the scanner face to the closest point at which symbol can be read; also, optical throw is the difference between range and depth of field.
Orientation The alignment of the symbol's scan path. Two possible orientations are horizontal with vertical bars and spaces (picket fence) and vertical with horizontal bars and spaces (ladder).
Overhead The fixed number of characters required for start, stop and checking in a given symbol. For example, a symbol requiring a start, stop and 2 check characters contains 4 characters of overhead.
P
Package Level Indicators Individual items marked with U.P.C. are frequently packaged in standard quantities of intermediate packs and shipping containers. Each different standard package quantity for each product is assigned a package level and assigned a unique number. Learn more at the Uniform Code Council web site.
PCS - Print Contrast Signal A measurement of the ratio of the reflectance between the bars and spaces of a symbol. PCS is calculated as: PCS = (R1 - Rd)/R1 where R1 is the reflectance of the light background and Rd is the reflectance of the dark bars.
PDF417 An error correcting 2-dimensional multi-row symbol developed in 1992 by Symbol Technologies, PDF417 symbols are constructed from 4 bars and 4 spaces over 17 modules. The symbol size is from 3 to 90 rows. There is no specified minimum or maximum for X or Y dimension. With at least the recommended minimum level of error correction, the recommended Y dimension is 3X. With less than the minimum recommended level of error correction, the recommended Y dimension is 4X. A quiet zone of 2X is specified on each side of a symbol. Because of delta decode techniques, the symbology is immune from uniform bar width growth. PDF417 supports cross-row scanning. The intellectual property rights associated with PDF417 have been committed to the public domain. Learn more at the AIMUSA web site.
Pen Scanner Requiring direct contact with the symbol, this bar code scanner is designed like a pen and connected either by wire to a device or self-contained.
Picket Fence Code (See horizontal bar code).
Pitch Rotation of a bar code symbol in an axis parallel to the direction of the bars.
Plessey Code A pulse-width, modulated bar code commonly used for shelf marking in grocery stores. Learn more at the AIMUSA web siteAIMUSA web site.
PLU Price lookup: the process used when a price is looked up in a database, based on decoded information from a bar code.
Postnet Code Code developed by the U.S. Postal Service to assist in the automatic sorting of mail.
Preprinted Symbol A symbol printed in advance of application on a label or on the article to be identified.
Print Contrast (See PCS).
Print Quality The measure of compliance of a bar code symbol to the requirements of dimensional tolerance, edge roughness, spots, voids, reflectance, PCS, quiet zone and encodation.
Product ID In the U.P.C. code, the 5-digit number assigned by a manufacturer to every consumer unit in its product catalog. The product ID is different for every standard package (consumer unit) of the same product. Learn more at the UCC web site.
Product/Catalog Number (HIBC) A 1-13 digit number assigned to every product that follows the HIBC Supplier Labeling Standard. Learn more at the HIBCC web site.
Production Control Applications where bar codes and other forms of AIDC are used to reduce data entry errors and slow response time.
Proprietary Numbering System A system for identifying objects and people that is not released to or generally accepted by the public. Many companies have a private or proprietary numbering system to identify products manufactured by others, but these internal numbers are not recognized by anyone other than the company that developed them for their own use.
Q
Quiet Zone A clear space containing no dark marks that precedes the start character and follows the stop characters of a symbol.
R
Radio Frequency Non-optical automatic identification devices that use radio waves to transmit data.
Radio Frequency Data Communication (RFDC) Handheld or vehicle mounted units that send and receive messages by radio frequency. Information from the units is displayed on a screen for workers and allows real-time, two-way exchange of data between terminals when one terminal is mobile and the other is a host computer at a remote location.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) The use of small radio transponders that are activated by a reading transmitter. The transponder carries a unique ID code or other information in its memory and can be read at a distance without line of sight.
Radio Frequency Tag An electronic tag capable of receiving, storing and/or transmitting digital information.
Radio Frequency Terminals (RF Terminals) A wireless portable device used to interact with a remote host computer.
Reflectance The ratio of the amount of light of a specified wavelength or series of wavelengths reflected from a test surface to the amount of light reflected from a barium oxide or magnesium oxide standard.
Resolution The narrowest element dimension distinguished by a particular reading device or printed with a particular device or method.
Ribbon A cloth or plastic tape coated with several layers of material, one of which is ink-like, that produces the visible marks on a substrate. Used on formed font impact, dot matrix, thermal transfer and hot stamp printers. Also called foil.
S
Scanner An electronic device that converts optical information into electrical signals.
Self-checking A bar code with a checking algorithm that can be independently applied to each character to guard against undetected errors.
Shipping and Receiving Applications that keep track of all goods entering or leaving a facility (see inventory control).
Shipping Container Symbol A 14-digit number applied to intermediate packs and shipping containers containing U.P.C. marked items. It is always encoded in the Interleaved 2 of 5 symbology.
Show-through The generally undesirable property of a substrate that permits underlying markings to be seen.
Skew Rotation of a bar code symbol on an axis parallel to the symbol's length.
SKU Stock keeping unit: refers to a particular item included in a database.
Solid State Laser Scanner A leading edge, laser-scanning device that emits light at a wavelength of 670 nm and also at 780 nm.
Source Marking The process of labeling an item with a bar code at the point of its initial production.
Space The lighter element of a bar code formed by the background between bars.
Space Width The thickness of a space measured from the edge closest to the symbol start character to the trailing edge of the same space.
Spectral Response The variation in sensitivity of a reading device to light of different wavelengths.
Specular Reflection The mirror-like reflection of light from a surface.
Spot The undesirable presence of ink or dirt in a space.
STAC Symbol Technical Advisory Committee to the Uniform Code Council, Inc. Learn more at the UCC web site.
Stacked Symbol (2D Symbols) A 2D symbol with sequences of linear (width-coded) data that are stacked one upon another (i.e., PDF417). Learn more at the AIM web site or the ANSI web site.
Standard A set of rules, specifications, instructions and directions to use a bar code or other automatic identification system that is usually issued by an organization. Learn more at the AIM web site, HIBCC web site, Uniform Code Council web site or ANSI web site.
Standard Numbering Systems Numbering systems identifying objects and people that have been released to and are generally accepted by the public.
Start-Stop Character or Pattern A special bar code character that provides the scanner with start and stop reading instructions as well as scanning direction. The start character is normally at the left-hand end of a horizontally oriented symbol, and the stop character is normally at the right-hand end of a horizontally oriented symbol.
Substitution Error A mis-encodation, misread or human key entry error, where a character to be entered is substituted with erroneous information. Example: Correct information -- 1234; substitution --1235.
Substrate The surface on which a bar code symbol is printed.
Supplier The party that produces, provides or furnishes an item or service in a transaction.
Symbol A combination of characters, including start/stop characters, quiet zones, data characters and check characters required by a particular symbology that form a complete, scanable entity.
Symbol Density The number of data characters per unit length; usually expressed as characters per inch (CPI).
Symbol Length The distance between the outside edges of the quiet zone.
Symbology Numbers, letters and computer-recognized characters represented in a combination of bars and spaces, similar to Morse Code that encodes characters in dots and dashes. The rules for encoding the characters in wide and narrow bars and spaces are called a symbology.
T
TCS Transport case symbol.
Telepen A continuous bar code encoding the full ASCII character set.
Terminal Emulation A software package that enables a PC or an RF terminal to simulate any one of several types of terminals.
Thermal A printing system with dots selectively heated and cooled on heat sensitive paper. The paper turns dark in the heated areas.
Thermal Transfer A printing system similar to thermal except a one-time ribbon is used and common paper is used as a substrate, because this eliminates the problems of fading or changing color inherent in thermal.
Tilt Rotation of a bar code symbol on an axis perpendicular to the substrate.
Two-dimensional symbology A machine-readable symbol which must be examined both vertically and horizontally to read the entire message. A 2D symbol may be one of two types of machine-readable symbols: a Matrix Symbol or a stacked symbol. 2D symbols differ from linear bar codes with the ability for high data content, small size, data efficiency and error correction capability.
Two-Dimensional Symbols See stacked codes.
U
UCC Uniform Code Council: the organization that administers the U.P.C and other retail standards. Address: 8163 Old Yankee Road, Suite J; Dayton, OH 45458. Learn more at the UCC web site.
UCC.EAN-128 Code 128 with a Function 1 character in the first position that is the symbology used with the UCC.EAN format for a universal product number (UPN);(See Code 128).
U.P.C. Universal Product Code: The standard bar code symbol for retail food packages in the United States encodes a 12-digit number assigned to specific consumer units of general trade items. The Uniform Code Council (UCC) assigns the first 6 digits, and the next 5 digits are assigned by the manufacturer. The final UCC digit is a check digit. Learn more at the UCC web site.
Unit-of-Use A packaging level containing the quantity of the item that is to be administered to a patient in a healthcare facility.
Universal Product Number (UPN) A number that uniquely and unambiguously identifies a healthcare product at each packaging level. It is actually a U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) term for the HIBCC and UCC.EAN bar code on medical and surgical products. Learn more on the HIBCC web site.
V
Variable Length Code A code with a number of encoded characters within a range, as opposed to a code with a fixed number of encoded characters.
Verifier A device that makes measurements of the bars, spaces, quiet zones and optical characteristics of a symbol to determine if the symbol meets the requirements of a specification or standard.
Vertical Bar Code A bar code pattern presented in such orientation that the symbol from start to stop is perpendicular to the horizon. The individual bars are in an array appearing as rungs of a ladder.
VLD Visible laser diode.
Voice Recognition The use of speaking to collect data or to input commands that requires no special printed or encoded symbols, similar to a headset and provides a hands-free option to enter data into a computer system.
Void The undesirable absence of ink in a bar.
W
Wand (See wand scanner).
Wand Scanner A handheld scanning device used as a contact bar code or OCR reader.
Warehouse Management An application that uses bar codes or other forms of AIDC within a warehouse to keep track of receiving, inspecting, storing, controlling inventory, picking and shipping of items and locations within the warehouse facility.
Wedge A device that plugs in between a keyboard and a terminal and allows data to be entered by a keyboard or by various types of scanners.
Work-in-Process An application or process that monitors product flow during the manufacturing process through to the finished goods stage, and also monitors processes within a warehouse.
X
X Dimension
Y
Y Dimension The height of the modules in a row of a 2-dimensional symbols.